Despite having an abundant selection of oil and gas stocks, the commodity-rich Toronto Stock Exchange isn’t known for housing very many crossover technology plays. That’s part of what makes Pason Systems Inc. (TSX: PSI) so unique. The drilling-data solutions company is situated in the heart of Canada’s oil and gas sector, putting it in prime position to capitalize on the energy rebound.
- Symbol: PSI
- Market Cap: $1.7 billion
- Annual Revenue Growth: 24.3% (December 2018)
- Forward P/E: 21.2
- Free Cash Flow: $83 million
Data Intelligence for the Oil and Gas Sector
Pason Systems describes itself as the “industry’s only oilfield specialist with a fully integrated drilling data solution.” It provides specialized data management systems for oil and gas rigs, helping them to collect, manage, and analyze real-time drilling data. The company was founded in 1978 as a remote-drilling developer but has evolved over the years through a series of mergers, acquisitions, and realignments. Today, it provides rig site solutions and data analytics systems to the oil and gas industry.
What sets Pason Systems apart from other tech-oil crossovers is its first-mover advantage in the data analytics field. Big data is of tremendous importance to the oil and gas sector, as evidenced by the massive amount of data volume generated by natural gas exploration, development, and production. Consider that captured data are used to create models and images of structures 5,000-35,000 feet below the surface to describe production activities around oil wells. This gives you an idea of some of the data-intensive processes required for oil and gas exploration.
Alberta’s energy slowdown had a direct impact on Pason Systems’ revenues, but the company has managed to turn things around significantly in the last three years. Annual revenues have nearly doubled since 2015, when crude prices last bottomed. Pason generated $306 million in sales in 2018 and is quickly returning to pre-crisis levels (2011-2014).
In addition to posting one-year earnings growth of nearly 150%, Pason Systems has delivered a superior return on equity (ROE) compared with the broader industry average. PSI stock has an expected ROE of 23% over the next three years, which could put it in elite company on the TSX.
Although PSI is exposed to a highly cyclical industry, rebounding energy prices and improving market fundamentals will play to its strengths. The company is well positioned to capitalize on the shift toward data analytics currently underway in the oil and gas sector.
In terms of performance, PSI shares have gained roughly 10% this year and have recovered 15% from their swing low in December. The stock peaked near $23 in November despite a protracted downturn in stocks and energy prices.
Investors keen on playing the energy rebound and the emergence of big data have found an excellent use case in PSI. National Bank Financial recently gave PSI an overweight rating and a $23.50 price target, which means it is expected to outperform in the near term.
Disclaimer: Author does not hold Pason Systems Inc. at the time of writing.